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5 things you may not know about anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the world, more than one in twenty people living in the UK are living with an anxiety disorder.

Read on to learn more about causes, symptoms, and treatment options of the UK’s most common mental problem.

This blog was published prior to April 2022 when our service was known as Health for Health Professionals Wales (HHP Wales).

We are now offering mental health support to both NHS and social care staff in Wales under the name Canopi.

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

When regular, and excessive anxiety and fear overwhelm us to the point where it interferes with our ability to cope with everyday tasks, this could be considered as an anxiety disorder.

Black and white number five hanging on metal wall.

5 things you may not know about anxiety

  1. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the UK
  2. Anxiety is more common in some people than others
  3. There are several types of anxiety disorders. Some examples of anxiety disorders are:
    • General anxiety disorder
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Panic disorder
    • Panic disorder
    • Phobias
  4. There are several factors which may increase the chance of developing an anxiety disorder.
    • Genetically inherited:
      1. Research shows that having a close relative with anxiety problems might increase your chances of having anxiety problems yourself.
    • Past or childhood experiences:
      1. Common triggers for anxiety problems are related to difficult experiences in childhood as experiencing extreme stress and trauma can have a big impact.
    • Current life situation
      1. Stress such as work pressure, living up to expectations
      1. Poor living situations such as homelessness or money problems
    • Physical or mental health problems
      1. Anxiety triggers can be caused by chronic illness or mental health problems such as depression.
    • Drugs and medication
      1. Anxiety can, in some cases, be a side effect of certain medications.
      1. Recreational drugs and alcohol can also increase anxiety.
  5. Although anxiety affects your mental health it can also result in physical symptoms. Examples of these physical symptoms include:
    • Difficulty sleeping (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep)
    • Increased muscle aches or soreness, tiring easily
    • Dizziness
    • Palpitations
    • Shortness of breath
    • Abdominal discomfort
    • Dry mouth
    • Low appetite
Woman writing in a journal

Treating anxiety

Although feelings of anxiety are normal human reactions to stressful situations, anxiety can be a problem if it is ongoing, intense, hard to control or out of proportion to the situation.

It can be helpful to explore treatment options, for example, by speaking to your GP. If they think you’re suffering from anxiety, whether mild or severe, they can suggest different types of treatment that might help.

Man talking while woman takes notes

There are several treatments that may be used if a GP considers it appropriate:

  • Psychological and Pharmacological therapies
    • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
    • Medication
  • Self-help and complementary approaches
    • Talking to someone
    • Good stress relief just may involve having someone listen to you without judgement. Samaritans or Anxiety UK are helplines that can support you when you’re going through anxiety.
    • Yoga
    • Meditation or relaxation
    • Taking care of your physical health

Resources

HHP Wales

Health for Health Professionals Wales (HHP Wales) offers access to mental health support for all NHS Wales employees, students and volunteers. 

HHP Wales is a free, confidential service that is supported by Welsh Government funding and administered through Cardiff University.